It's staggering how much dirty laundry a family of 6 produces, especially when 4 of the 6 are under age 10. I remember when I was single and in college, I sorted my laundry into two piles: light and dark. Now we often have enough dirty clothes to make much finer distinctions: we'll run a dark blue load, followed by a light blue load, a dark red/orange load, a white load, and then an off-white load, etc. Of course, it's one thing to start a load of laundry, and quite another to see it through to completion, with everything folded up and put away. As I was thinking about this recently, my thoughts drifted to an unlikely analogy: baseball.
Putting a load in the washer is a lot like hitting a single: it's a good start, but you've still got a lot of work to do before there's any real payoff. If you want to start another load, then you're forced to advance the first load to second base (the dryer). At this point, the first load is in scoring position. If you hit another single by starting one more load, then the original load advances to 3rd base (the laundry basket), and if it's not too difficult to fold and put away, you can easily score yourself some clean laundry in the drawer or closet.
Often, though, it's more important to advance the runners than to get another single, so you just run downstairs, move the wash to the dryer (or the dryer to the basket) and don't try to start another load in the washer. This is a sacrifice. While not ideal, this is better than stranding a runner on base. Stranding a runner on first base consists of leaving wet laundry in the washer so long that it starts to smell funny. Then that load is out, and has to return to the dugout until you can hit another single with it. The saddest of all is when you strand a runner on third. This is when you have perfectly clean laundry in the basket, but you put off folding it and putting it away, and then some kid knocks over the basket, the clothes get scattered and mixed with yesterday's pajamas and today's burp rag or trampled underfoot, and then all your effort advancing that load is for naught.
Right now, we have runners at the corners, and I'm off to see if I can get an RBI before bed.